Monday, January 25, 2010

"Tomorrow You Will Find Me A Grave Man."--Shakespeare

Morning All,

A subject I haven't touched much on:

killing off your characters.

Shakespeare did a lot of that (Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, et cetera). In fact, for him it worked, especially when it was characters we come to care about.

However, I read somewhere that it's generally discouraged it kill off your main characters. (I can't remember where I read it, but I did read it somewhere).

Readers often come to really care about those main characters and don't like you messing with them.

How do I know? Well, besides being a reader myself, I was once writing an Inspirational type fiction and I was thinking of what to do with one of my characters and I said to a friend of mine, "I think I'll kill him off...have him die in the story." She said "Noooo!" I said, "Why not? You didn't like him originally." She said, "Well, I like him now."

As your story changes, the opinion your readers form of the characters can (and often does) change.

Case in point...I was reading the 3rd installment of the Jennifer Scales novels, The Silver Moon Elm: A Jennifer Scales Novel. Originally, I had liked this one character and thought it was kinda cool that he and this other character were together. But as the story went on and I found out more about what he was doing in the background when the story wasn't focused on him, and I stopped liking him as much. In fact, I was disappointed with him.

Sometimes a death of one of your characters plays an essential role in the plot line, which I read in that same place (that I can't remember what it was) and the author said if it plays an essential role in the plot line, that was different.

In Lurlene MacDaniel's novel, When Happily Ever After Ends, the main character's father is a Vietnam War Vet and can't handle the post traumatic stress of his memories and commits suicide. This event shapes what happens in the latter part of the story.

So, what about you? Does death push your plot line along or do you prefer to keep your main characters (and those closest to them) breathing?

Generally I don't have any of my main characters die, but depending on the story, sometimes might have someone close to them die to help shape the rest of the plot and their motivations for doing what they do.

Have A Mourn-LESS Monday!


Marsha Sigman said...

I killed off someone pretty important in my current wip. I had to, I think it was necessary in forming the character of my MC. I think you have to be willing to let go. But it can be really hard.

Bethany said...


Sorry you had to do that...sometimes we do get attached to our characters.